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In this issue

  • Safeguarding data matched across Adults, Children’s, NHS, Police and Fire for the West Midlands to better support vulnerable people
  • Progress made on work to share more Universal Credit data with local authorities
  • Improved user interface and budgeting features coming soon to our benefits calculator thanks to support from NESTA
  • Uprated benefits and tax figures for the 2021/22 tax year
  • Policy in Practice joins new Commission on Social Security
  • People news: Welcome to David Carboni and Joe Hollingworth
  • Future webinars on employment support and homelessness
  • ICYMI: March's blogs
Safeguarding data matched across Adults, Children’s, NHS, Police and Fire for the West Midlands to better support vulnerable people

The number of safeguarding incidents involving children increased by 27%, and adults by 15% in the last year.

Limited data sharing makes it hard for frontline practitioners to know when there has been contact with other services. Policy in Practice, working with partners across the West Midlands, has developed the MAST (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Tracker) platform to tackle this issue.

MAST will give multi-agency safeguarding (MASH) teams, social workers and frontline safeguarding teams information to improve communication, liaison and decision making.

MAST has matched data from Adults and Children’s services within Walsall Council, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust; West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire and Rescue. MAST is a Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator (SCDIA) 2020/21 project run by CC2i and backed by the LGA, it has match funding from NHS Digital.

"We’ve been interested in ways of doing this better for ten years. It’s great that it’s finally happening."
Security and Information Risk Advisor, West Midlands Police

"There were at least two recent fire service matches not already known to Children’s services, one with multiple incidents at the same address. This alone shows the value of the project."
Deven Ghelani, Policy in Practice

Listen back to our MAST webinar featuring Paul Withers, Data Protection Manager, Walsall Council


Progress made on work to share more Universal Credit data with local authorities

In our regular UC data roundtable this month we were delighted to share the significant progress we’ve made so far to extend the Universal Credit data share with local authorities.

Highlights include confirmation from DWP that UC data can be used more widely than previously thought, and confirmation from Ministers that they see the value in sharing more Universal Credit data.

Together with a small number of leading local authorities, plus support from supportive stakeholders, we are working to secure the sharing of more UC data by DWP with local authorities. This will help councils to increase incomes, prevent crisis, improve life outcomes and deliver more cost-effective services. Ultimately, it will give local authorities a greater understanding of the people they need to support.

To find out more or to request an invitation to join next month’s UC data roundtable email hello@policyinpractice.
Improved user interface and budgeting features coming soon to our benefits calculator thanks to support from NESTA

We were recently named as one of fourteen semi-finalists in Nesta’s £3million Rapid Recovery Challenge. Our winning solution, focused on those hardest hit by the economic shock resulting from COVID-19, has seen us scale our award-winning Benefit and Budgeting Calculator into the My Benefits app. This will allow us to reach many more thousands of people in the next year.

My Benefits is a personalised app to help you find your way around the complex benefit system. It will assess your unique situation to pinpoint any benefits you could be eligible for, so you get access to the widest possible range of support. My Benefits uses the information you enter to calculate your future income, helping you to plan from month to month, take control of your money and become financially stronger.

Our work so far has seen us listen to over 1,000 end-users and clients, every one of whom has helped us to shape the future of the calculator. We learned how we can enhance the User Interface and improve the overall user experience, particularly on mobile and for people with accessibility requirements.

We’re excited to launch a brand new future payments schedule in the calculator. This will show future Universal Credit and other payments and take into account month-to-month fluctuations in income. Our research tells us this will be particularly useful for people on insecure wages.

Watch a demo video of the changes we have made here
Uprated benefits and tax figures for the 2021/22 tax year

Each tax year the government updates benefits and income tax figures to reflect policy changes and rises in inflation. From April there will also be changes to support related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme are extended to the end of September 2021, the Hardship Fund for Council Tax Support will end and the £20 uplift to Working Tax Credits is replaced with a one-off £500 payment.

Policy in Practice’s Benefit and Budgeting Calculator has been updated to incorporate all of the new changes. Two new alerts advise users of potential eligibility for the £500 Working Tax Credits payment and that the £20 Universal Credit uplift will end in October. The update also includes all changes to Council Tax Support schemes made by every local authority in England for 2021/22.

The Thursday 1 April changes are now live on the calculator. These consist of uprated figures for:
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Support schemes
  • National Living Wage
  • SFS Trigger Figures and ONS budgeting costs

Uprated figures going live on Tuesday 6 April include:
  • Income tax and National Insurance thresholds
  • Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits
  • Statutory Sick Pay

Uprated figures going live on Monday 12 April include:
  • Universal Credit standard allowance and work allowance
  • Employment & Support Allowance and Jobseekers' Allowance
  • State Pension and Pension Credits
  • Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance
  • Child Benefit

We have also updated the Your Income and Coronavirus page on our website, which provides detailed information on all the support available to people affected financially by the pandemic.

If you are a Benefit and Budgeting Calculator client log in now to view the changes. If you don't yet have our award-winning calculator find out more here.
Policy in Practice joins new Commission on Social Security

Deven Ghelani has been invited to join Bright Blue’s high-profile cross-party, cross-sectoral commission. The commission has been set up to advise on reforms to the social security system to support the post-Covid-19 economic recovery and strengthen the UK’s safety net in the long-term. Deven will join the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP, and the award-winning food writer Jack Monroe.

New analysis by Bright Blue, entitled Shaky foundations, shows that the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the housing crisis in urban areas, with London boroughs in particular experiencing the biggest rise in England in the proportion of all households claiming state support for housing costs.

Read Shaky foundations, Bright Blue

People news

We are delighted to welcome two new joiners this month:

  • David Carboni, Chief Technical Officer
  • Joe Hollingworth, Developer

To match our continuing growth we are currently recruiting for a Technical Analyst. Check out our latest vacancies and find out what it's like to work at Policy in Practice here.
Future webinars on employment support and homelessness
All our webinars are free and run from 10.30 to 11.45

Back to work: Making the most of the Restart Scheme
Wednesday 21 April. Details and register here

How local authorities can prepare for the end of the eviction ban
Wednesday 28 April. Details and register here

What we all need to know about implementing Breathing Space
Wednesday 19 May. Details and register here
ICYMI: our March blog posts

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2021 at Policy in Practice
For International Women’s Day we interviewed the women of Policy in Practice to find out about their careers. Watch the video here.
Read blog post

IWD2021: How the benefit system can do more to support women
We look at how the benefit system can do more to support women and why they are one of the groups most deeply affected by the pandemic.
Read blog post

Budget 2021: A missed opportunity for welfare certainty
Budget 2021: Our policy analysts Sam Tims, Alex Clegg and Zoe Charlesworth look at the announcements and what they mean for welfare.Read blog post

And finally ...

Here are a few of the Policy in Practice team members on our recent State of the Nation team event.


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